Recapping the Realm: The Hound, the Greyjoys and Arya’s Next Move on ‘Game of Thrones’ ‘The Broken Man’
Welcome to “Recapping the Realm,” where each week ScreenCrush senior editor Erin Whitney is joined by Tyler McCarthy and Kelly Lawler for a SPOILER-filled discussion of the latest Game of Thrones. This week, Erin, Tyler, and Kelly discuss “The Broken Man” (full episode review here). Tyler is an Assistant Managing Editor at Odyssey. You can tweet at him at @TylerMcCarthy. Kelly is an Entertainment Writer and Social Media Editor at USA Today. You can tweet at her at @klawls.
Erin: One of my most anticipated moments of the season finally happened last night and I loved every bit of it. Seeing the Hound return was fantastic, especially as a man clearly affected by his near-death experience. His quiet, introspective manner in just a few short scenes was so palpable and performed with such delicacy by Rory McCann. I kept thinking about him and his post-death identity in comparison to the revived and pretty much unchanged Jon Snow (who by the way, seemed much more sheepish and weak in this episode, but perhaps anyone would standing beside a bold and fearless Sansa).
But on top of the Hound this week also gave us some great Tyrell moments. I could watch Diana Rigg’s Olenna throw shade at Septon Unella all day. It’s also refreshing to see a well-dressed and cleaned up Margaery on top of her game and scheming hard, despite the High Sparrow’s gross insistence upon baby making.
Tyler: Oh my goodness, I completely agree. We in the TV reporting business heard a lot of rumblings that the Hound might not be done since, as he put it, he’s “a big f---er and is hard to kill.” However, a majority of the audience must have been out of their seats in the first five minutes of the episode! Deaths like Ned Stark’s or even Ygritte’s are always devastating, but very rarely do I find myself thinking “So-and-so could deal with this nonsense in a hurry” the way I do with the Hound! At last, there’s someone on the board who might have a chance against the Mountain!
More to your point, Erin, I loved the idea that he’s just back now. Obviously he had to have some kind of emotional journey after his near-death experience, but I find it so interesting that his one attempt to be a good man, and to throw his support behind a pacifist was undone at the first sign of trouble. One of his best lines was when he told Arya that the world is ending and that the weak are just prey. For a brief second it looked like he had changed his tune ... but then some ruffians came along who had no clue who they were messing with.
Kelly: I quite liked the reveal of the Hound, as well. This was one of the most masterfully structured episodes of the entire season. Six years in, the audience knows how an episode of this show is supposed to go: You jump from person to person at different places and by the end everyone has covered a little ground. But the sheer number of times we visit the Hound and Septon Ray (what a phenomenal use of Ian McShane, by the way), indicated something was up. The dread and the tension built up every time we visited this way-too-happy clan. Revealing the Hound in the cold open was also a nice and different move. We don’t need to have all our surprises in the final minutes.
That said I am very intrigued about who murdered these peaceful folks. If they were truly from the Brotherhood Without Banners we have some serious problems, considering their mission used to be protecting civilians like this. If they were imposters that’s bad, too. Either way I’m glad to get back to the sort of ground-level aspect of the show. So much of the show and the books is concerned with how ordinary people end up in the crossfire of highborn conflict, but we’ve been pretty preoccupied with those highborns for a while.
Erin: Yes, Tyler keep the “Cleganebowl“ hype alive!! (It’s going to happen right? It has to. It must). After all, it was “hate” that kept Sandor alive and we know his rage is a tool that can’t be quelled even living amongst the most serene of landscapes in the Quiet Isle, which to me felt a bit like the Shire in that cheerful gorgeous cold open.
I’ve been thinking about the parallels between the Hound’s new storyline alongside Arya’s in Braavos, the two of them attempting to start anew with different lives and motivations. But much like Sandor can’t forsake his mission as a killing machine, Arya also can’t give up her identity as a Stark. Yet even after last week’s long-awaited kickstart to her plot, this week felt like another major stall. Do we really need two episodes to show her take down the Waif, because she has to kill that annoying blonde bobbed girl eventually, right? I’m getting so tired of the Game of Thrones fake-out deaths. We know Arya won’t die from those wounds or be killed by the Waif, so what’s taking so long? I also find it hard to believe she was caught so off guard by the Waif and walked around freely without Needle by her side. There better be another mystery here, perhaps some more face-swapping trickery going on.
Tyler: I agree Erin! Last week was such a triumphant moment for Arya, but this week it looked like that plan we all thought she has doesn’t exist. When she got stabbed, I honestly thought she’d have pulled a bit of meat out of her shirt to show she was trying to fake her own death (maybe with the help of her new theater friends). I thought that because obviously she saw this coming, right?!?!?
Having said that, she paid the ship captain so we’ve only got one day left in Braavos (theoretically) so maybe this just wasn’t Arya’s episode yet? My question is, where will her first stop be in Westeros? King’s Landing feels too dangerous, The North seems both far and obvious, and anywhere else just doesn’t make sense! I’m fascinated! Honestly, I hope not King’s Landing. After Lady Olenna dressed her down this week, I wanna see Cersei marinate in that sorrow for a little while before she meets Needle.
Kelly: I agree. There’s no way that there isn’t something else going on with Arya. The show has taken wrong turns in the past, but to let this stand as-is would be a really big mistake. That said my guess is she would head straight to King’s Landing, especially after seeing that play and being reminded of all of those Lannister names on her list. I wonder how much she knows about what has changed there? We heard the sailors she paid for passage talking about the Greyjoys and Meereen, so we know some news is traveling.
Speaking of the Greyjoys, I think the show is successfully making me care about them and about Yara. The scene in the brothel was actually a lot of fun and I think the show is finally figuring out who she is. She’s been mostly a cypher for what the Greyjoy house needed to do in order to check off boxes on the plot to do list (as the Northmen reminded us they did create a lot of problems during the War of Five Kings). But now she has her own enemies, her own motivations and her own person to care about. I’m excited to see her do more.
Erin: I’d wager Arya would be headed to King’s Landing next, too. But as you both say, that’s dangerous territory right now. Maybe she’ll be able to take a face with her or put her training skills to use.
I totally agree about the Greyjoys, Kelly! The show has managed to finally make their plot exciting, especially now that they’re on the move pursuing a plan and trying to outrun enemies. I really liked the moment between Yara and Theon. He’s been sulking and dampened for so long now, and for valid reasons, but if anyone’s going to give him a needed boost and resurrect his identity it’s his sister. I love that the Greyjoys are being led by a woman as strong and fearless as Yara, but unlike, say, Daenerys, she does carry a certain amount of sexism and misogyny with her. I suppose you can’t blame her for “being one of the guys” in the brothel when aiming to garner their respect, but it’s a shame to see one of the show’s female leaders talk about a naked woman with such vulgarity. *Sigh* medieval times.
Kelly: I’m pretty sure this was the first instance of a lesbian character who wasn’t a prostitute? We have that, at least. I guess.
Erin: Good point that she’s the only lesbian character so far, Kelly. All my sexist nitpicking aside, it is something worth celebrating!
Tyler: I loved Yara in this episode. The scene was so well-written from setting to dialogue. The thing I love about the Greyjoys in a show that often moves as slow as Game of Thrones does, is that they’re people that do not waste a lot of time with small talk. No one, I repeat no one, wants to see Theon struggle with having previously been Reekor what he did at Winterfell. It’d be depressing and weird. So it was so refreshing to see someone like Yara break it down to something as simple as “in or out?”
It also just condensed what a lesser show would have made a meal of into one heroic moment. Theon looking up from his drink and sheepishly nodding his head yes may as well have been George Washington crossing the Delaware! Is he a great guy? No. Am I rooting for him? You bet!
I just hope Danearys recognizes them as the right Greyjoys to back and not their weird crazy uncle who is qualified because, he’s the best at drowning?
Kelly: Maybe Tyrion will remember Theon from that one time he stopped at Winterfell and they bonded over Ros. Because at the rate this season is going we should expect every single call back possible.
Erin: Fingers crossed Dany and the Greyjoys get along, because what’s a smarter pairing than dragons and a fleet of Ironborn?
And one last thought I have to squeeze in. We failed to mentioned last night’s badass new character, Lady Lyanna Mormont. Get her on the Iron Throne already!
Tyler: Oh my goodness! That actress nailed it. Leave it to a Mormont to accept no nonsense in her house! Thank god Davos was there. He’s really good at getting through to tiny but powerful women.
Kelly: I want her action figure and I want it now. Or a spinoff.